Monday, 2 January 2012

Shift Together - Working Title

I wrote the original version of this post as part of last month's Arts and Creativity week on the Transition Social Reporting project (beginning again tomorrow 3rd January), and have amended it slightly here for This Low Carbon Life. It looks at some of the huge creative output that has helped shape Transition Norwich (and Sustainable Bungay). May we continue to flourish in 2012!

October 1 2008 Transition Norwich Unleashing I have no idea that sitting at the 'Well-Being, Culture and Arts' table in a packed room at St. Andrews church, with fellow writers, dancers, photographers and nurses, none of whom I know yet except Charlotte, will lead three years and ten thousand blogs, photographs, banners, meetings, parties and news bulletins down a long and winding transition road to writing this Social Reporting post on a windy wet pre-crepuscular December morning sitting up in bed. Yes that was just one sentence but this is the creativity week!

I spend a lot of my life taking photographs of and writing blogs about the Transition initiatives I’m involved in, but until I came to write this post I hadn’t considered it as creativity or art or thought about the enterprise that goes into them. I’d just been getting on with it, mostly in enjoyment, sometimes getting narked about having no funding or how admin and marketing seem always to be seen as more important than creativity and editorial.

But creativity underpins everything.

This Low Carbon Life - Transition Norwich Blog came into being a year after the Unleashing. Charlotte, Jon and Andy met and worked out the format and design between them, and it was launched at our first birthday party. It was to be (and still is) editorially-based, a daily reflection with photographs by transitioners in the Norwich groups and guests, of the experience of being in transition and the move towards living a low carbon life. For my contributions I picked up the Canon Powershot A40 digital camera I’d found at Sustainable Bungay’s first Give and Take Day, and the Olympus Camedia and old Nokia phone cameras Andy had given me, and started shooting and writing.Now over two years later This Low Carbon Life is a living storehouse of the creative output of Norwich transitioners. All of the writing and most of the photography is original.*

So here are some of those pictures and how they represent our lives in Transition Norwich. There is so much, that not everyone or everything will feature. So please do use the comments box below for links to any other This Low Carbon Life people, posts and pictures and your own recollections.

Reconnection with Nature is the most popular label for the posts on This Low Carbon Life. I took the above picture of snowdrops on an early Spring visit to a local wood. One of the things about creativity is its link with the wild, what lies beyond the tamed, cultivated or managed. Which is not to say wild good, cultivated bad. Just that there needs to be awareness and balance.

This is a homegrown chilli, organic pasta, grains and pulses circle arranged and photographed by Charlotte Du Cann for Transition Norwich Strangers' Circle's discussion about (our households') food consumption.

Plastic Bag Dress, Helen and Kerry (by helenofnorwich)

Helen is an artist, TN blogger and wicked photographer. She originated and co-organises the annual Magdalen Street Celebration, which grew out of a Transition Norwich group called NR3 after the postcode. We were sitting at the same table at the Unleashing and were together in the first Heart and Soul, Arts, Culture and Well-being group, known in those early days for its feisty and dynamic meetings and workshops on everything from reskilling to reconnection with nature to clowning, authentic movement and organising Transition Norwich parties. Kerry, also in that early group, was a full-on mover and shaker, blogger, reskiller, event organiser and unremitting downshifter in Transition Norwich until her move to Glasgow in March. We miss her. But she's still blogging, thank goodness... both for This Low Carbon Life and as a Social Reporter on the Transition Network project.

Every month for the Transition Norwich News bulletin I make a banner out of the previous months blog and website pictures. Andy did the first ones and I just fell in love with them. This is the one for December 2010 including the Zero Carbon concert organised by Chris Keene in support of the Cancun climate negotiations.

Celeste the Transition Norwich dragon was created by Bel Greenwood in her front room and made a dazzling appearance at the 2009 Lord Mayor's show. Bringing transition into the city with a fiery blue flash, she was elegantly chauffeured by TN blogger, cyclist, downshifter and original steering group member Chris Hull.

And here is megablogger and co-creator of the Social Reporting project, Charlotte, Dancing at Lughnasa, next to a 'temporary shoreline sculpture' (I just came up with that one, hope it doesn't sound too rarefied!!! I promise not to mention found objects) I made last September called 'Work -> ?' Indeed.

There is music too. Taiko drumming as part of TN's Low Carbon Roadshow at Earth Hour in March 2010 outside the Forum and to open both Magdalen Street Celebrations. And even a rainbow recording.

Tom Harper, who made the film for this year's third birthday celebrations (see on line on our news blog), wrote a gentle song called "In Transition", which he sings at TN's gatherings and parties. I also sang a set with Andy at our First Birthday Party as Fret 6, along with The John Preston Tribute Band (Transition Downham Market and Villages).

In fact, here are the lyrics to Shift Together – Transition Rap (Mostly Sustainable Bungay Version)** which I wrote on a bus from Lowestoft to Norwich and sang at our Big Meeting in August 2010. To the tune of ‘Come Together’ by The Beatles.

We run on chip fat, we down
Shifting quickly, she got
low carbon gumboot, we got
Handmade beehive
We say grow your own and
Plant for bees
Our soap’s biproduct glycerine
And we wash when we please

He pushing pedals, he got
Roadshow genny,we got
Solstice sunrise, he make
Medicine jelly, she say
Blog and blog and blog in threes
Got to be Transition
Coming up from our knees
Shift together, right now
It’s in the we
She on the network, we got
No-spam filter, we got
Neighbourhood plug-in, we do
Group newsletter, we say
Meet, greet, eat and
Set the scene
Got to be where we are and
Know where we’ve been
Shift together, right now
It’s more than green
We stitch up old sock, we do
Library courtyard, we swap
Local home-grown, we start
Old Spot pig club
We say you and you and you and me
Let’s forage in the the hedgerows and
Eat roots, shoots and seeds
We own production, we got
Sweet jar banknotes, we got
Solar panel, we know
Birch sap tapper, we say
Give and take and take the lead
Join the dots together and
Share what you don’t need
Shift together, right now (oh yeah)
Sow the seeds

And a few words about Sustainable Bungay:

Setting up the Library Courtyard Community Garden between 2009-10, now in its third year and flourishing, was an enormous labour of the love and creativity of many people, from the planning to the plant bed building to the fundraising. The garden opened to the public on 19th September 2010 (see video below). Here a group of us at the end of July are shovelling earth into the new beds, and having a bit of a song and dance!

At this point I could not resist the temptation to do a pogo dance and sing X-Ray Spex's punk classic Oh Bondage Up Yours! (well, just one verse) whilst tamping down the soil. It didn't take long to realise I was no longer a teenager and the year was actually 2010 not 1978!

Pics: First Birthday party poster (Andy Croft); Snowdrops (Mark Watson); Food Circle (Charlotte Du Cann); Plastic Bag dress, Helen and Kerry (Helen Simpson); Magdalen Street Celebration crew 2011 (Helen Simpson); December Newsbanner 2010 (MW); Celeste the Dragon; Dancing at Lughnasa and Work > ?(MW); Bungay Beehive Day banner(Banner by Bungay Community Bee group, photo MW); Shifting Earth Together (MW) and Oh Bondage Up Yours! (CDC)

*All original photos by the Transition Norwich bloggers are Creative Commons with Attribution. We're happy for people to use them as long as the author is credited.

** Shift Together – Transition Rap Mostly Sustainable Bungay Version) Lyrics by Mark Watson (sung to tune of Come Together by the Beatles) (lyrics Creative Commons with Attribution see * above)

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